Short Stories russell banks omnivore review

Published on November 24th, 2013


A Permanent Member of the Family by Russell Banks

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Blurb: A collection of short stories from the author of The Sweet Hereafter, Rule of the Bone and Lost Memory of Skin (Ecco Press, 2013)

Michael Lindgren, The Washington Post

“Banks’s tales masterfully build tension via an accumulation of carefully selected details, often ending as abruptly and resonantly as a struck gong. They have space in them for mystery, for the blooming of uncertainty and doubt; Banks relies on the veteran storyteller’s trick of giving readers slightly less than they need to know. There’s not a dud in this bunch, and two of them — “Searching for Veronica” and “The Green Door” — are so good, so profound and sneakily disturbing, that they almost took the top of my head off.”

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Gary Krist, The New York Times

“Banks is a master of the kind of old-school, unadorned realism that hasn’t really been the fashion in short stories since the days of Raymond Carver. But here he executes it with a psychological precision that would be the envy of any of the latter-day fabulists or word-drunk genre-­benders currently in vogue. And while most of these stories cleave to his signature plain-spoken aesthetic, there’s still room in this sly collection for a few surprises, including a grisly, satiric parable called “Blue.”.”

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David L. Ulin, The LA Times

“Howard, the protagonist of “Transplant,” … agrees to meet the young woman whose husband’s heart now beats in his chest, or Connie, the 73-year-old father of three law-enforcement officers who in “Former Marine” decides to make ends meet by robbing a number of local banks. These are classic Banks characters: taciturn, proud of being self-sufficient and yet at the very point when self-sufficiency may no longer be enough.”

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Christena Appleyard, The Daily Mail

“There’s no disguising the fact that most of these stories are, in one way or another, about loss. In Snowbirds, Isabel loses her husband soon after retiring in Florida; in A Former Marine the hero loses his job and turns to crime. Marriage break up is a common theme in the others. But Russell takes all his characters and his stories in such unexpected directions that we start to see loss in a different way.

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Lionel Shriver, The Financial Times

A Permanent Member of the Family is a solid collection. Though the 12 short stories are not all memorable, none of them is bad, and two are terrific.”

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